I never thought it would actually happen. Me in the vast backcountry of Yellowstone National Park. You see, I have fibromyalgia, so there’s just no way I’m going to haul a 35-pound backpack on a hiking trail to reach the remote areas of Yellowstone. While I could do it, the price of recovery from it would be too high.
Yet here I was, standing at Plover Point where a boat operated by Xanterra Parks & Resorts had dropped us off for our two nights on Yellowstone Lake. A delicious lunch of pulled pork sandwiches along with a few side dishes was being prepared for us. I wandered this area, marveling that yes, I was here.
I was part of a media tour arranged by Far and Away Adventures of Sun Valley, Idaho for one of their ‘glamping’ trips in Yellowstone. What’s Glamping?
Glamping (glamp‘ • ing), verb
1. Glamorous camping. Not roughing it in the outdoors.
2. As if by magic, you find a camp already set up in the wilderness, gourmet meals appear on tables set with real place settings, cloth napkins and wine served in glass goblets. Every need is attended to, so your only job here is to soak in this pause from everyday life.
3. Enchanting elegance found in the roughest of wilderness settings.
Our campsite on this trip was 7M6, about half-way down on the South Arm of Yellowstone Lake. To reach the campsite from Plover Point, we paddled our way down in two-person kayaks. I had my concerns about how I’d handle this, not being in top condition and never having kayaked before, but it was easy, and I’m hooked. More kayaking is definitely in my future.
The owners of Far and Away Adventures, Steve and Annie Lentz, said they have taken some guests directly to the campsite when needed, but the kayak is a great kickoff to the trip. They also customize their trips to suit most any interest. Like to hike? They’ll arrange it. Like to fish? Can do. More kayaking? Certainly! Sleep in, read, and just relax? Absolutely!
They also have a ton of age-appropriate activities to keep kids busy and happy. From playing Lewis and Clark while they explore the wonders of the wilderness, to forest golf games to assisting a grandfather in teaching his grandson how to fish. I also asked about the foods they have in store for the kids. Yes, mac and cheese is a choice, but this is glamping, so kids’ meals can range from tacos and chicken strips to penne pasta with a white sauce or even pizza on the grill. While they prefer kids be 5 years old or older, they have accommodated guests as young as two.
I loved arriving and simply finding my tent already set up – it’s one reason my husband and I shifted from tent camping to a pop-up camper years ago. The tents provided for this trip were large enough to stand up in, and were furnished with a rug, a cot with a comfy sleeping pad and sleeping bag as well as a night stand with a lantern. I slept very well both nights. And at the end of the trip, they took care of the packing up as well. Annie told me they zip two tents together for families with kids so you all stay together.
Each morning, they also arrive at your tent with freshly brewed coffee and warm washcloths to help you open your eyes to the new day. No, don’t roll your eyes at that. It’s a detail of pampering that was so very welcome. One of the many things that differentiates glamping from camping. They also provide a hot shower if you want.
On our long day on the shore of Yellowstone Lake, our group split up to do various activities. Some chose to stay in camp, relax, read and just take it easy. Others were up for a longer kayak and hiking trip. I ended up with the group that did a shorter kayak trip. We tried to make it to Peale Island to see the historic ranger station there, but the winds picked up a bit and we turned around to head back. Conditions on Yellowstone Lake can change in a heartbeat, so we decided to play it safe.
On the way back, a loon surfaced not more than 50 feet from us, watched us for a short while and then silently disappeared again under the surface. I wondered if this was one of the ones that called each morning, and sometimes also in the evening. A bald eagle soared high above, floating on a thermal. Along the shore, birds filled many nest holes in the dead standing trees. Birding here is pretty good and I was glad to add a few more species to my year’s list.
And then there was the food. Amazingly scrumptious food prepared and served on a regular basis. Shrimp appetizers, duck grilled in an orange ginger sauce, hot pastrami (or turkey) sandwiches, salads with fresh berries, eggs how you want them in the morning and cake baked in a dutch oven for dessert. Far and Away Adventures asks prior to the trip what foods you don’t like or can’t eat, and tailors the meals to the group.
So is the price for this American safari outrageous? No. It is a fair chunk of change. Though my trip was comped as part of the media tour, rates for a similar experience run $840 for adults and $760 for children. But if you were to head out for a weekend at a nice hotel, eat out at comparable restaurants, and rent kayaks or other excursions for the weekend with a guide, it would probably come out about the same, or even a bit more. This type of trip also guarantees a one-of-a-kind and memorable experience.
This is definitely a unique way to experience a bit of Yellowstone’s backcountry in comfort. For me, it was a welcome pause from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.